Last week we conducted a survey of more than 1,500 email marketers to learn what they are planning on spending more money in and what their current results are. (The detailed results will be announced at the end of this month in MArketingSherpa, which you can sign up for free here.) As I was glancing over results, I noticed good news and very bad news for email newsletter publishers who sell ads.
The good news is that more than 1/3 of marketers surveyed say they are planning to significantly increase advertising in email newsletters. The very bad news is, a large number of marketers reported their current ezine ad click through rates were 10 or 15%. Based on doing a gazillion Case Studies, I know that number should be closer to 0.5-3%.
There was no incentive or reason for survey takers to give crazy wild inflated numbers like that. All answers were strictly anonymous.
I called my pal Todd Kellner over at Opt-Influence (a big ezine ad sales
network) to ask what his take was. He told me that he is heard plenty of marketers say the same thing. It was not a freakish answer confined to our survey.
He figures that some ezine ad sellers are artificially inflating numbers to keep customers happy. One way is to lie about your circulation rate. Tell ad buyers you have say, 20,000 opt-ins when you actually have 40,000. When they do the math to get click % they will think it is twice as high as it really was. I knew about this already because it is a tactic much used by the less savory element in the email list rental biz as well.
Then Todd told me something I did not know. It turns out some publishers report click rates to advertisers based on the percent of opened emails that were clicked on. If they sent the issue to 20,000 people and 10,000 actually opened it and then 200 clicked on the ad, the publisher tells the advertiser they got a 2% click through rate, instead of the 1% click through based on the 20,000.
Let us face it, even if you are clear somewhere in your media kit about what you base the click percent on, most advertisers do not read the fine print. They read a spreadsheet that somebody else put together with a list of the circulation of all the pubs they placed ads in and the results. More than likely that spreadsheet will read: 20,000 circ 2% click through. You know it and I know it.
In the end it hurts all the other publishers who report, well, more honestly. It trashes text-only publishers who can not report on open rates at all.
Anyway, here is a link to Todd's column in Ezine-Tips where he scooped me on this story two days ago because I was dumb enough to call him for a quote and then not get around to blogging it until now.